It might not seem like veterans get traded too often in the NFL, but there are plenty of recent examples of teams moving proven commodities for draft picks. We have the evidence from the past two-plus years.
With the days counting down to the 2008 draft, the Vikings are in full-fledged war room mode. They've made their lists. They've received input from coaches and scouts. Now all there is to do is wait.
Or is there?
While the Vikings haven't been as deeply involved in the recent trend of trading for a star player in exchange for a draft pick as they are now with the Jared Allen
trade talks, the art of trading veterans for draft picks has become much more common than might meet the eye at face value. In fact, many NFL teams have been involved in buying and selling veteran contracts in exchange for draft picks. The trade of DeAngelo Hall
to Oakland from Atlanta, the anticipated trade of Pacman Jone from Tennessee to Dallas and the ongoing Allen trade discussions are just the most recent in a rash of players-for-picks trade that have gone done or could go down in the near future. Consider the following over just the last two years:
The Vikings trade Daunte Culpepper to Miami for a second-round pick.
The Jets trade defensive end John Abraham to the Falcons for the 15th overall pick in the 2006 draft.
The Bills trade WR Eric Moulds to Houston for a fifth-round pick.
Cleveland trades center Jeff Faine to New Orleans for a second-round pick.
Green Bay trades Javon Walker to the Broncos for a second-round pick.
The Eagles trade Artis Hicks and a fourth-round pick to the Vikings in exchange for picks in the fourth and sixth rounds.
The Rams trade tight end Brandon Manumaleuna to the Chargers for a fourth-round pick.
Detroit trades Joey Harrington to Miami for a sixth-round pick.
The Titans trade Steve McNair to Baltimore for a fourth-round pick.
New Orleans trades Michael Bennett to the Chiefs for a fourth-round pick.
The 49ers trade RB Kevan Barlow to the Jets for a fourth-round pick.
The Patriots trade Deion Branch to Seattle for a first-round pick in the 2007 draft.
The Buccaneers trade DT Anthony McFarland to the Colts for their second-round pick in the 2007 draft.
Detroit trades DE James Hall to the Rams for a fifth-round pick.
The Bears trade Thomas Jones and a second-round pick to the Jets for a second-round pick that is 26 picks higher.
The Dolphins trade Wes Welker to New England for a second-round pick.
The Bills trade Willis McGahee to Baltimore for a third-round pick.
The Falcons trade Matt Schaub to Houston for an exchange of first-round picks and a second-round pick.
Seattle trades Darrell Jackson to the 49ers for a fourth-round pick.
Oakland trades Randy Moss to the Patriots for a fourth-round pick.
The Dolphins trade Chris Chambers to San Diego for a second-round pick in the 2008 draft.
These are just a few examples of how veterans have become playing chips in draft strategy. Individually, they may not seem like a huge change from the past, but when looked at collectively, they are impressive. Teams are routinely trading away disgruntled and past-their-prime players for whatever they can get. In some cases, like Moss, they turn out to be steals for the teams acquiring the known commodities. In others, like Jackson and Culpepper, they turn out to be expensive mistakes.
While the Vikings' overture to the Chiefs to land Allen is something that is new to Vikings fans, the art of the veteran trade has been nothing new – and don't be surprised to see a handful or more big-time NFL veteran names getting moved from one team to another before, during and shortly after the draft. It doesn't get a lot of attention, but it has become an important bargaining tool for a lot of teams looking to add a key player or get a veteran one off their hands.